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Vantage Point

IUP’s faculty is diverse not only in discipline but also in background. Its members come from around the world. They have lived in many types of communities and graduated from a variety of colleges and universities. As a result, they have an equally wide range of perspectives. Watch this page in every issue of IUP Magazine to see responses to a question posed to a selected group of faculty members. This first iteration of “Vantage Point” asked the following:

As it relates to your academic discipline, what specific historical event is the most underestimated in terms of its impact on society?

Calvin Masilela

Calvin Masilela, Geography and Regional Planning

Tantalum’s effect on Africa’s communications deficiency

The global demand for electronics products in 2000 triggered an urgency for tantalum, a robust capacitance metal found in abundance in Africa. Tantalum gained currency in the 1950s in the production of military radar and radio communications and later became indispensable in the manufacture of capacitors used in electronic gadgets, including mobile phones. Consequently, Africa’s geographic information space has been profoundly transformed. The mobile technology uptake is erasing the continent’s telecommunications infrastructure deficiency and redefining economic, social, and political spheres in urban and rural areas, providing banking, health information exchange, and educational content with predictable outcomes.


Pankaj, Information Systems and Decision Sciences

Steve Jobs’s return to Apple in 1997

Anyone who keeps up with information technology knows that making a confident prediction is nearly impossible. Michael Dell, who was at the top of his game, said, “I’d shut [Apple] down and give the money back to the shareholders.” The demise of Apple was seen as all but imminent, but Steve Jobs and Apple gave birth to a new age of mobile computing that is part and parcel of our life today.

Willard Radell

Willard Radell, Economics

GI Bill of Rights and the Marshall Plan

World War II was the first major war without subsequent severe economic depression. Instead of telling veterans, “Thanks for your service; hope you get a job,” we said, “Need credit and interest subsidies for a house, or grants for high school or college education? Uncle Sam’s got your back.” Instead of demanding reparations from the war’s losers, we said, “If you want stuff but lack money, Uncle Sam will pay American businesses employing Americans to make stuff to send you.” Tangibly compensating veterans while helping the war’s losers, maintaining purchasing power, keeping the economy humming—doing “nice” was a win-win-win, avoiding a depression.

Gary Stoudt

Gary Stoudt, Mathematics

Napier’s logarithms, developed in 1614

Perhaps not underestimated but largely forgotten, the logarithms John Napier developed in 1614, during the Scientific Revolution, profoundly impacted science and hence society. In an era of quick, easy, and cheap computation, we often forget that calculations were tedious and laborious. Napier published his work as Mirifici logarithmorum canonis description (A Description of the Wonderful Table of Logarithms). Napier’s logarithms, expanded upon by mathematician Henry Briggs, made many calculations easier, allowing physicist Isaac Newton, for example, to provide numerical confirmation of his innovative theories. Astronomer and mathematician Pierre Simon Laplace (1749-1827) remarked that Napier “by shortening the labours doubled the life of the astronomer.” Wonderful, indeed.

Stephanie Taylor-Davis

Stephanie Taylor-Davis, Food and Nutrition

The Green Revolution

Developments in science, technology, the petroleum industry, and international collaboration from 1940 to the late 1960s led to dramatic improvements in agricultural efficiency called the Green Revolution. Along with factors such as public health initiatives, it allowed the human population to grow from around 2 billion people in 1950 to over 7 billion people in just 60 years. Yet, it also led to unintended health and environmental consequences that affect us now. To mitigate them, we are racing to create solid plans and policies for alternative energy and agriculture to maximize global capacity and sustainable practices in support of food security.

More from the Spring 2015 Issue of IUP Magazine

Cleanup Crusade

Cleanup Crusade

After working as an investigator in the Navy and the Defense Department, Patty Ameno came back to western Pennsylvania to rid her hometown of nuclear waste.

Evolution of the Oak Grove

Evolution of the Oak Grove

With the help of botanists, arborists, faculty and staff members, students, and many other supporters, this beloved campus landmark is returning to the beauty of years past.

Message from the President

President Driscoll discusses how IUP is preparing students to respond to the pivotal issues of today and tomorrow, such as energy independence.

Namedroppers | Achievements | Mentors

Photo Gallery | In Brief | Letters to the Editor

Front Door: Growing Globally

Nearly 900 strong, the international student population at IUP is enhancing the learning experience for everyone.

Pitching In

Using hammers, paint brushes, bats, and baseballs, a number of IUP student-athletes have helped build villages—and spirit—in the Dominican Republic and Haiti.

Coming Home

The IUP Class of 2014 has made refurbishing several of Sutton Hall's stained glass windows their Senior Class Gift Project.